Among the backpacking crowd, dried fruits and dehydrated vegetables have long been staple ingredients in many a backcountry feast. Food preservation and light weight are important on long hikes, but if that isn’t your idea of a good time, dried foods could be associated with making do rather than making dinner. It turns out nothing could be further from the truth.
Even if you never leave the comforts of town, dried vegetables and fruit are in many of the foods you eat, and they can be extremely good for you. With nearly the same nutritional value as fresh food, a longer shelf life, and a lower price tag, dried fruits and veggies could be just the ticket to helping increase the nutritional content of a host of dishes.
Are Dehydrated Vegetables Still Healthy?
It may surprise some people to learn that dried vegetables are nearly as healthy as their fresh counterparts. Though the water content of fruit or vegetables is removed in the drying process, properly dried food maintains nearly all of its vitamins and minerals. Aside from some volatile nutrients, properly dehydrated vegetables and fruits can retain their nutritional content, cost less to ship and are shelf-stable almost indefinitely.
Temperature matters in the dehydration process and foods dried at lower temperatures tend to retain more of their nutritional content. Some benefits remain no matter the temperature, such as the dietary fiber content of dried food. As anyone who has mindlessly munched their way through an entire bag of dried apricots can attest, dried fruit still packs the full dietary fiber punch of fresh fruit.
The only exception to the general rule of dehydrated food still being healthy is related to some volatile nutrients such as some B-vitamins, vitamin C, and beta carotene. These important nutrients do not survive the drying process well, making this one key nutritional difference between dried and fresh produce. Thankfully, vitamin C in particular can be added back into foods through the addition of citric acid.
Nearly any food can be dehydrated, but most consumers asked to name a dehydrated food probably think first of whole, dried fruit such as apricots or sliced bananas or apples. Veggies are also easily dried, and some of the most popular include extremely healthy options such as:
Kept in a cool, dark place, dried vegetables can be stored for extremely long periods. Using dried fruits or veggies in a range of dishes takes only a few minutes to properly rehydrate them in boiling water. Adding dried or powdered vegetables to soups or stews is even easier, as the cooking process will take care of the rehydration for you.
Beyond merely keeping pace with the nutrition of their fresh counterparts, some dehydrated foods have been linked to possibly lowering your chances of getting certain kinds of cancer. Research is very much still ongoing in this regard, but initial reports suggest that certain compounds activated during the drying process in some foods could provide extra protection against stomach, prostate, bladder, and some other types of cancer.
Are Dehydrated Vegetable Powders Healthy?
Kale is probably the most well-known of all powdered veggie. With powdered kale available as a dietary supplement or in many kinds of powdered nutrient mixes, dehydrated kale packs much of the nutritional power found in the fresh varieties of these leafy greens. This is good news for those of us who are more likely to add a little green powder to our smoothies rather than pounding down a plate of fresh kale.
Once you have dried a vegetable, it doesn’t really matter the form it takes. This is where powdered vegetables come into the picture. The nutritional content of dehydrated veggies remains the same no matter what form they are in, and powdered vegetables offer some great advantages. Adding powdered veggies to a pasta sauce will not change the flavor or consistency much, but it can add much needed vitamins and minerals. Similarly, powdered fruits and veggies can help add some extra nutrients to smoothies.
The only loss in some powdered veggies is the lowered levels of dietary fiber they provide. Leafy vegetables can easily be powdered, but the fiber content we normally associate with leafy greens may be lost in the processing.
Fruit jerky or fruit leather is a great example of a product likely to appeal to more than just the hikers among us. Made of the dried solids of many different kinds of fruit, these products are tasty, nutritious, and far more portable than fresh fruit. They make a far healthier snack than potato chips, and they can help fuel your body more effectively as well.
Keeping the Nutritional Value of Dehydrated Foods
While it is possible for anyone to dry their own food in an oven or food dehydrator, getting the full health benefits of dehydrated foods takes skill, dedication to the details, and the right equipment. Getting the temperature and other factors exactly right during the drying process is vital for maintaining the highest possible levels of some nutrients.
Food safety is a primary concern in all areas of the food and beverage industries. You have to ensure that every single ingredient you use is coming from a knowledgeable producer who takes quality control seriously throughout their global supply chain. Using dehydrated ingredients can help lower your risk of food-borne contaminants. By removing the moisture content from fresh vegetables, the chance of spoilage or contamination from microorganisms growing on your food decreases. These details are an example of what it takes to prevent roadblocks from interfering with your production processes.
At Silva, dehydrated foods are all part of how good-for-you gets done. Our long list of premium, ready-to-cook or ready-to-eat ingredients are processed with the highest attention to detail, so you can be confident putting your name on every end product containing our ingredients.
If you are ready to find out more about the good-for-you promise Silva makes with all its partners, contact us today to learn more.