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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tomato slices ready to be dried in a food dehy...

Do Dehydrated Foods Add Nutrition or Just Calories to Food Storage?

Adding fruits and vegetables to your food storage is like choosing your elective classes in school. They enhance and round out your supply, but the choices are up to you. A common question regarding produce in #10 cans is, “Does it retain its nutritional content?” I often address this when I give a class on food storage, but until a recent comment on this site, I hadn’t realized I’d overlooked it here.
Dehydrated (freeze-dried) foods are very nutritious. In contrast to their water-packed, canned counterparts, these foods retain much more vitamins and nutritional content. They are excellent for everyday cooking as well as long-term food storage. Freeze dried foods have 98% of their moisture removed, but they retain nearly all of their fresh-food flavor, vitamins and nutrients. Dehydrated foods keep their nutritional value because the vitamins have not been cooked out in the initial process.
Aside from nutrition, dehydrated foods are desirable for food storage because they are so light weight. With pits, peelings, and nearly all of the water removed from these foods, they are very light and convenient to store or take with you in an emergency. They are also economical. Generally, dehydrated foods have double the yield of regular canned food, which makes them a smart buy.
Dried foods, however, do lose nutrients due to the use of heat to dry them. They also become concentrated calories. For example, one cup of fresh apricots contains about 74 calories, while one cup of dehydrated apricots contains more than 4 times that amount: 313 calories! The good news is, dried fruits do retain all of their fiber and iron. Drying foods slowly with a home dehydrator is the best method to retain the most nutrients during drying (much healthier than commercial drying).
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