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Raw Food Dehydration Primer

A lot of the raw food questions that end up in the comment section or in my e-mail inbox are about dehydration and raw food recipes.  I decided it was time for a little dehydration primer.

Here are the top asked questions:

1. What temperature do you need to dehydrate at to keep the food raw.

There are a few different opinions here but through my research, I am comfortable at 116-118 degrees. Some suggest 105 to make sure your food never, ever gets too hot but honestly, I think that encourages fermentation and possible bacteria growth.

2. I notice that you start your dehydration at 140-145 and then drop the temperature after a period of time. How does the food stay raw?

Even though I have addressed this many, many times, it still comes up with regularity. And I understand why. It is a little confusing. I start the dehydration high for a couple of reasons. First, it is important to note that the FOOD never reaches the higher temperature. In fact, during the beginning of dehydration, the food is just throwing off water and actually stays very cool. Starting at a higher temperature shortens dehydration time and also helps discourage fermentation from the food being in the dehydrator too long.

3. How come my dehydration times are different from your dehydration times?

Many things affect dehydration. The current air humidity, how your dehydrator works, what kind of dehydrator you have, and even how thick you spread your mixture. I had a friend who couldn’t understand why her crackers were taking so much longer than mine. Her’s were quite a bit thicker than the 1/4″ I specified! Really, the thing to do is use the times as a guide, and watch your food as it dehydrates.

4. What functions do you need on a dehydrator?

Most important is a temperature control. Even with one, I would always suggest you test your dehydrator once in a while to make sure you know what temperature it is dehydrating at. Get a decent oven thermometer and check it occasionally so you can be comfortable. A timer is also a very nice feature but not completely necessary.

5. A few other things to keep in mind:

-Rotating trays is not completely necessary but does make a difference. The top and the back are quickest area to dry, with a back mounted fan.

-Pick the freshest food to dehydrate. You don’t want to start with food that is at all spoiled.

-Make sure you don’t over dehydrate. Your food will get way too hard and dried out. Some recipes do call for food to be completely dry.

I hope this helps answer your dehydration questions!

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  1. Jana wrote on February 27, 2011

    Great idea to post about it, thank you!!!

  2. Elizabeth D. wrote on February 26, 2011

    Very good post. Thank you for sharing this important info. So good for those just starting out!
    Peace & Raw Health,

  3. bitt wrote on February 25, 2011

    great advice! I noticed even when I turn the knob of the dehydrator up to 115, the internal temperature is still only 105, so it makes sense to keep it a little higher.

  4. Ciara wrote on February 25, 2011

    You gave some really great tips! I am looking into getting my first dehydrator soon. Do you have any recomendations for beginners?

  5. RawGuru wrote on February 25, 2011

    These are wonderful tips Susan, thank you! The fermentation thing happens a lot i think, way more than people would like to think about. after all, moderately warm moist environments are PERFECT for bacteria. I’ve had to throw out a lot of dehydrated foods until i started cranking the temperature up to 115-118, and 145 if the food starts out very moist and thick like breads and the like.

  6. margaret Meyer wrote on February 25, 2011

    What kind of liner do you have on this rack. It look orange??
    Can you direct me to a source?
    Thank you

  7. Mindy wrote on February 24, 2011

    This is a good post. I’m not surprised people are confused. There is so much variation in how people view the temperature issue. I absolutely agree with the way you do it. I actually have one raw vegan uncookbook (the author is quite well known) who never adjusts her temperature over 95 degrees. It’s hard for me to imagine she has never had food spoil. Virtually every dehydrated recipe in her book calls for 24-48 hours of dehydration time. I once ruined an entire large batch of flax crackers because the temp in the D was too low. They basically developed the most foul smell. It was awful. Not only did I have to discard the whole batch, I ended up discarding my non-stick sheets too, because the hideous smell had completely permeated them. It made me nauseous. When I warm my “raw” leftovers in my D, I sometimes put items in at 135 to 145 for a whole hour. They are so cold coming out of the fridge, and even after an hour they are just slightly warm to touch. I almost always start my items out at that higher range for a good half hour, and then reduce to about 115 (or at lowest 110) for the rest of the time. It works better, and it is so much more practical. My D is in the regular living area in my tiny apartment. There is no room in my kitchen for it. It can really start to get hot in my room if I have to run the D for hours on end, and I live in a hot climate to start with. Starting out and working with the slightly higher temp does make a huge difference in the amount of time I have to run the machine. Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge with everyone.

  8. kelli wrote on February 24, 2011

    very informative. thank you!


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