Home Dehydrated Foods
Apricot Fruit Leather dried in an electric dehydrator.
Can you store home dehydrated fruits and vegetables in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers without putting it in a vacuum sealed bag first? Will the shelf life still be 25 years?
Yes, you can. Using oxygen absorbers is the same as vacuum sealing, as long as you seal the Mylar bag.
The shelf life depends on the moisture content of your food. If you can dehydrate it down to approx. 20% moisture (or less) for fruits (25% for juicy acid fruits such as apricots), and 10% (or less) for vegetables (5% for leafy veggies) the longer the shelf life. Too much moisture will allow mold to grow.
How can you tell the moisture content? A good method is to weigh the food before and after drying. For example, a food weighs 16 ounces before drying. After 8 hours of drying, the food weighs 8 ounces. In this case you have 50% reduction in weight by removal of moisture. So you would continue drying until there is no further reduction of weight. This will give you a fairly close estimate of the percentage of moisture in a particular food on that day.
All dried foods should be cooled before testing for dryness because warm foods feel more moist than cooled food. Generally, dried foods feel dry when they are squeezed.
Dehydrated foods such as grains will store for 25-30 years. Freeze-dried foods store for 25 years. Home dehydrated fruits, vegetables, and meats may store that long. It just depends on the food type, the moisture content, and cool, dry, dark storage conditions.
Vegetables usually dry to a crisp state - very dry. They will probably have a shelf life of 25 years.
Fruits, again depends on moisture content. Thicker fruits like apricots and cherries will not dry until crisp (just like the dried fruit in the stores), but strawberries will dry until almost crisp.
Meat or jerky may dry until crisp but that's not how most people like it - hard to chew. So if dried just until chewy, that means the shelf life is shorter because of the fat content. Fat can become rancid.
I hope this has helped, but the bottom line is that you'll just have to experiment and use your best judgement. I have not tried everything yet because I haven't had my dehydrator very long. I'm learning too.
Good luck and please write back with any helpful hints for me and other readers who are attempting to dehydrate at home.