How to Package Dried FoodsFirst off, you should be aware that some foods require pre-package “conditioning”, such as fruit. Fruit should be allowed to condition for 10 days post-drying, as the moisture in it that is left over from drying may not be distributed equally among all the pieces, leading to a higher risk of mold growth. To condition fruit, pack it loosely in plastic or glass jars and let it stand for 10 days, checking for signs of condensation (as this means the fruit needs to be returned to the dehydrator; it is still too moist). Vegetables, on the other hand, do not usually require this process. It’s generally a good idea to research what post-drying care is required for each type of food you wish to store. Once your food is ready to be packed, be sure to do the following: • Seal the dried food: Sealing dried food not only keeps out pests, it prevents it from absorbing moisture from the surrounding environment. Make sure the food is completely cool, then package it in tightly sealed containers, such as moisture-proof freezer containers, “Ziploc” bags, or sanitized mason jars. Keep in mind that if you have treated your fruit with sulfur, it cannot be allowed to come into contact with metal, so do not use a metal container to store it. Glass is often a preferred method of food storage as moisture that has gathered inside glass jars can be seen easily. • If you plan to keep the food for long periods of time (over a year), look into buying a vacuum sealer. • Pack the food as tightly as possible, keeping out as much oxygen as you can, but be careful not to crush and bruise the food—this will leave it prone to decay. • Pack the food in “serving sizes.” Every time you open a container of dried food, you expose it to moisture and oxygen, harming its shelf life. To combat this, pack food in meal or recipe-suitable sizes. • Check your food frequently while it’s being stored to make sure it’s still dry. If you catch food that has been re-moistened but is not yet moldy, you can still safely consume it or re-dry it, preventing waste.
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