Summer is the time of abundance. There is more food to harvest than we can use. Dehydration is one of the best ways to preserve fruits and vegetable to keep their nutrition. Most information out there revolves around using dehydrators or drying them in ovens and inside, but the other thing that summer provides is plenty of heat and sun!
If you’ve never tried drying foods naturally, it is important to learn since our setting can have a huge impact on our ability to dry and store foods. Humidity can be your biggest challenge. So following are a few things I’ve learned about naturally drying fruits and vegetables.

Vegetable greens are dried easiest by bundling them and hanging them. Make sure to hang them in the shade, else the sun will bleach some of their nutrition. If you’re battling humidity, make sure the bundles are smaller, allowing more air movement. If it is very humid, you may need to move them near a fire or primitive oven. You can even dry them on a rock placed near the fire. Just be sure to remove them when they are thoroughly dried. 

Denser vegetables, like roots and zucchini, need to be thin sliced to dry. Zucchini, or other vegetables with a soft core, can be put on sharpened sticks and laid on a platform to dry. The thinner the cut, the quicker the dry. Just make sure each piece is not touching. Potatoes, bulbs, onions and garlic can be thin slices or chopped and spread out on a platform to dry- a piece of wood, a mat made of grass or cattail, or even a platform of small sticks. If they get air from below as well as above, they will dry quicker.

Fruits can be dried directly in the sun. If the fruit is small, like berries, they can often be dried whole- just spread them on a mat or platform as you would the root vegetables. Larger fruits need to be thin sliced before drying. You can also mash some fruits and spread on a mat to dry as fruit leather. Most fruits retain some moisture when dried.

How you store dried foods is as important as getting them dry in the first place. Especially if you have high humidity, your dried foods can be ruined by reabsorbing moisture before you’re ready to use them. It is best if you can create sealed containers for storage. You can make a coal burned wood container or pottery with lids and use wax or sap to seal. Do not use rawhide containers since these absorb the moisture from the humidity as well. If you don’t have humidity issues, they can be stored in open containers or greens can just stay in their bundles, hung from the rafters. It will take experimenting to find what works best in your area. Check your stored items frequently at first to determine if you’re food is remaining dehydrated. Storing in closed areas, such as root cellars can help keep foods dry. 
Now is a great time to experiment with drying foods- either store bought or foraged. So enjoy the sun, and make some yummy foods to enjoy this winter!
#dehydrated vegetables#dehydrated fruits#food preservation#bushcraft#primitive#outdoors#nature

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