For many people, a combination of commercial long-term food kits and home dehydrated staples can represent anything from emergency foods to daily fare. Since at home dehydration processes are quite different from the flash freezing that commercial emergency food providers can perform, this also means that special considerations in home prepping should be considered.
The Problem With Moisture
Any type of spoilage is essentially the result of bacteria proliferating within an organic setting. In order to colonize, bacteria does need moisture, and this is the main reason that dehydration is used in long-term food storage, since lessening the water content also raises the shelf life of a consumable.
While it may seem obvious that foods with a higher water content should not be dehydrated at home, or at all sometimes, there are other factors that can influence effectiveness of preservation.
• Liquids – people will try to dehydrate beverages, in order to generate a concentrate that can be later used. However, this is not only a very long process, but it is rarely done with great results, since these concentrates still have a limited shelf life and are better if they are simply canned.
• High fat foods – any type of food that is high in fat will not only take a long time to properly dehydrate, but will also likely end up having more moisture than is desired. This includes meats and high fat produce, and the chances for these products going rancid are quite high.
• Dairy products – this includes both milk and cheeses, and the difficulty is in the combination of high fat, moisture, and bacterial cultures that are common in these products. With milk itself, the liquid aspect can be prohibitive, but even though cheeses can be commercially dehydrated, this is also because the freezing process halts the cultures within the cheese.
Although there are a number of items that people can DIY for dehydration, the above categories should be avoided for health and safety reasons.