A lot of people ask me what is dehydration and why is it raw? So I thought I could create a quick post on the topic.
Dehydration is a method of food preservation that works by removing water from food, inhibiting the growth of bacteria. It has been practiced since ancient times to preserve food via natures sunshine! We now have electric dehydrators which can speed up the drying process and ensure more consistent results.
Important note when feeding children dehydrated foods
Dehydrated foods have lost their water content, so when feeding your children dehydrated foods it is important to ensure they drink lots of water. One of the main benefits of a raw food diet comes from eating water-rich foods that are easy to digest. Because dehydrated foods have lost their water content, it can be easy for children to overeat them. It is important to remember that children on a daily basis should be eating lots of fresh water rich fruits and vegetables.
So Why is dehydrating not cooking?
During the dehydration process water is removed by evaporation. By keeping a consistent temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit / 46 degrees Celsius ensures the food is not cooked and bacteria, yeasts and mould which need water in the food to grow are prevented from surviving in the food.
Cooking compared to dehydration kills the cellular and enzyme structure of food due to the extreme high temperatures and length of time which food is cooked.
These are yummy raw muesli bars made using a dehydrator - you can find recipe is in Raw Food 4 Kids
Can you use an oven instead of a dehydrator?
I have been told that some recipes work using an oven on the lowest temperature setting with the oven door slightly ajar. I can’t say they will turn out raw, but if your looking at making dehydrated raw food for the first time and you don’t have a dehydrator this could be an option. Most ovens however don’t go as low as 115C and there is no control whereas a dehydrator has the ability to ensure a consistent temperature so you can ensure the food and its enzymes remain in tact.
To ensure that the enzyme structure of food is not damaged it is important to ensure that the temperature does not go above 115 degrees Fahrenheit / 46 degrees Celsius will ensure you keep the food in a raw state.
What dehydrator do we use?
We use a 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator regularly in this house. They also come in 4 tray, 5 tray as well as the 9 tray – with and without timers.
One of our favourite things to make at the moment is Raw Bread – its easy as Issy loves it and it replaces the emotional attachment to flour bread! Win Win!
Listed below are some of the benefits of using and making dehydrated foods
- It ensures the food remains raw! WIN WIN!! yeahh
- lots of yummy snacks can be made for the kids just like an oven does only using a dehydrator will ensure all the nutrients are still intact!
- make a variety of raw versions of conventional foods when new to the raw diet
- large batches of dried food can be prepared and stored for months
- leftovers can be used to create crunchy snacks – like veggie chips
- excess produce can be dried and preserved
- easy on the go snacks can be made for travelling
- having a dehydrator on a raw diet is going to help you on your journey – as you can get into raw ruts. Having a dehydrator helps vary your meals
Hope that helps answer some of your questions x Sarah x