Dehydrated Fruits & Veggies with the Excalibur
I am thinking of purchasing a food dehydrator and using a food storage vacuum sealer system to store the dried goods. Any idea on how long the food will last (wanting to dry fruits and vegetables, maybe some beef and turkey jerky) once it is sealed assuming that we keep it in a dark, cool and dry place.
I was reading that I should include an oxygen absorber in each package?
Also, we were considering getting the jar sealer attachment for the food saver. Has anybody had good experience with that?
I use the Excalibur (the picture above is of the fruit I dried this summer). I love it. I've done a lot of research on dehydrators and because of the shape, the rear fan, the timer, and how well made it is, I decided on the Excalibur. (Read more about dehydrating and the Excalibur on this page.)
Dehydrated fruits and veggies can last 25 years or so if, (big IF) you dry the foods until they are crisp. That's the key. When you buy dried fruit in the store, it is rather soft and pliable. These will not last as there is too much moisture in them. So I dry some for eating - soft and pliable - and some for long term storage - very crisp.
Some people advise putting an oxygen absorber in before vacuum packing, but it is redundant. Vacuum packing does take out the oxygen - that's what it's designed for. If you want to add O2 absorbers just to be safe, that's fine.
I have both sizes of the jar sealers - I love them! They work so slick that I use them often. I also saw a video the other day that showed how to vacuum seal jars that don't use canning lids - like reusing spaghetti jars. It showed using the large plastic containers from FoodSaver with the special lids. They filled the clean spaghetti jar with some food, put the lid on, placed the jar into the plastic container and attached the tubing that comes with the FoodSaver, and it literally sucks the air out of the container and seals the spaghetti jar! It was amazing! Oh, I found the link again. Watch it here.
Now let's address meat and jerky. Meat of any kind can be dehydrated for long term storage if it is first cooked. It still doesn't have a long shelf life because it's difficult to have completely fat-free meat and the fat can go rancid. The very best way to store real meat is to buy freeze dried.
Jerky is not cooked but is usually marinated and then dried. Every where I've read states that jerky cannot be stored long term. The longest is maybe 6 months. But because of the fat content, it too can become rancid. You can, however, keep it in the freezer for longer term.
In the olden days of the cowboys, pioneers, and Indians, jerky was smoked. Smoking meat helps preserve it a little longer, but still, not for longer term storage than about 6 months. They usually smoked their meat just to have enough for the winter months or while out on the range.
Anyway, check out the Excalibur and enjoy dehydrating your own foods. It is very worth it to me and it's easy to do.