Dehydration is an excellent way to preserve fruits and vegetables over the medium-term. However, it often involves a lot of work, and it can be messy as well. Consequently, many of us tend to prefer canning as a less-labor intensive alternative, and rightly so. However, there is one way to take advantage of this underutilized preservation method: Use frozen vegetables.
There are all kinds of different frozen vegetables in most supermarket freezers, and they often have a greater selection than what we can find in the produce section. Frozen veggies also allow us to buy out of season, and this can help us with our planning. You can also find different package sizes, and it’s pretty easy to order in bulk.
Fresh produce is usually pretty cheap when it’s in season. However, prices skyrocket out of season, and availability also diminishes. As a general rule of thumb, frozen veggies are about the same price as their fresh, in-season counterparts, but prices tend to go down as package sizes go up. Frozen veggies are also often on sale, and this allows us to really take advantage of savings year-round when we shop smart.
Frozen vegetables have a long shelf life, and this means that you can store them until you’re ready to process them later. This frees you from having to do the bulk of preservation during the growing season. Finally, and best of all, frozen vegetables are peeled, cleaned and cut into small pieces. Consequently, 99% of the prep-work has already been done, and this makes processing the vegetables easier than many other products that we want to store over the long-term.
These are just a few examples of the many benefits associated with using frozen vegetables to build up our emergency food supplies. Now, let’s look at how easy it is to dehydrate them.
All you really need to do is set the dehydrator to around 120-125 degrees, place the vegetables on a single layer on the rack, and let them dry out for about 6-8 hours. The amount of time that it will take depends on the conditions in your home as well as the thickness of the vegetables you’re processing. However, you shouldn’t have to wait more than 8-9 hours in most cases.
When finished, all you need to do is place them into Mylar bags and vacuum-seal them up. You can also store them in vacuum-sealed glass jars as well, and a good seal can preserve the finished product for years. If you want to use vacuum-sealed zipper bags, you can generally store the veggies for a couple of months before the air will slowly seep in and begin to make them stale. Some people also grind the finished product and use them as seasonings for foods and soups, and this is a great way to give a variety of meals a nutritional boost as well.
Take a fresh look at the benefits of frozen vegetables, and consider putting them to work for you. You can add a lot of variety to your survival diet, increase access to nutrition and save a lot of space along the way.