“Wherever you live, emergencies and disasters happen. Be it a tornado, winter storm, wildfire, flooding, a disease outbreak, an economic collapse or even an act of terrorism, it only makes sense for you and your family to be prepared with a stockpile of dehydrated food.”
A disaster can leave you without gas and electricity rendering those modern conveniences like refrigerators and stoves useless. How many foods come to mind that do not need to be, kept cold or whose “unused portions” should be refrigerated? It’s a tough one to answer given how much we depend on those two common, household conveniences. But there is one type of food that can provide the daily calories and nutrients we all need, does not need to be rotated out and can last up to 25 years… dehydrated foods, the ultimate preppers emergency pantry essential.
Why Dehydrated Foods?
The most important purpose of an emergency food supply is that it be edible when it is needed. The food you store away must have a long term shelf life, should meet the daily caloric load for an average person (~2,500) ; it should not require complicated preparation.
Dehydrated foods meet all these criteria and have provided people with their dietary needs for over 14,000 years. Dehydrating reduces the growth of yeasts, mold and bacteria and if stored properly they will last more than two decades. Their inherent packability means you can store more away for an emergency in less space than other foods and in the event of evacuation, dehydrated foods are the best choice for your bug-out bag. Stored alongside ample supplies of water, canned vegetables and meats, dehydrated foods are a core ingredient to any prepper’s long term food supply.
Advantages of Dehydrated Foods
Dehydrated foods should be central to all long-term food preparedness planning because:
- They can be eaten as is, without cooking or extra water.
- Dehydrated food will plump up and increase in volume with water when cooking.
- Reduced weight and size make long-term storage more convenient and bugging out a heck of alot easier.
- Nutrients are preserved since dehydration takes place at low temperatures
- Dehydrated foods taste remarkably similar to the original ingredient.
- Dried foods do not contain preservatives or additives.
Best of all, you can prepare dehydrated foods yourself. You can save money by stocking up when your favorite ingredients are in season and at their best prices. You also have complete control of the quality and can choose exactly what you know your family will enjoy.
DIY Food Dehydration
Traditionally, food was dried by way of evaporation, smoking or set out in the sun, air or wind to dry. Today electric food dehydrators make the job so much easier by speeding up the process with more consistent results.
Here are some basic tips to help you purchase the right dehydrator:
- Choose a vertical dehydrator if you plan to dry only a few or a single type of food.
- Horizontal dehydrators are best for drying large amounts of different kinds of food at the same time.
- Ensure the unit has a fan for more efficient and even drying.
- Dehydrators should have adjustable temperature settings to choose the appropriate drying temperature for different foods.
The unit should include the necessary trays and accessories for drying a variety of foods.
There are specific instructions to dehydrate different types of food. Study the information that comes with your unit, and read up on techniques and tips online. When dehydrating meats, for example, there are different methods for ham, chicken and beef and precooking these items is often recommended to prevent food-borne illnesses like salmonella. You can better preserve the taste of many fruits and vegetables if you blanch them first and then cut them into similarly sized pieces to dehydrate evenly.
Buying Dehydrated Foods
If dehydrating your own food is too time consuming or you want to quickly build up your emergency food stocks, consider buying dehydrated food. Begin with searching your local store’s bulk bin section for dried fruits. There are also a number of online stores and vendors like Valley Food Storage who stock a variety of high quality Dehydrated emergency foods.
In addition, consider the following:
Calculate how much dehydrated food is required to meet each person’s daily caloric intake for a given amount of time. Prepare for a minimum of 3 days.
- Ensure the food purchased is good and nutritious, not just fillers.
- Start with the staples then consider other varieties later.
- Focus on foods that do not contain preservatives, dyes or other additives as this can effect the drying process and shelf life.
- Select foods that are low in cholesterol, trans fat and sodium.
- When choosing foods for your preppers pantry keep your family’s particular tastes in mind.
Take the time to research what should be included in your emergency food storage or check out the printable USPreppers checklists. In a disaster of any kind, it is especially important to look after the physical health and well being of all adults and children. Dehydrated foods offer the most durable and nutritious options for your family to weather virtually any emergency situation.