Dehydration is a simple process that does not need many extra pieces or additional effort. Usually, if you have an oven, or a specialized dehydrator, you are all set to start dehydrating foods for future use.
Dehydrated food makes for a lovely snack. It is also perfect for preserving your food, allowing you to keep it for much longer.
As with anything, there are a lot of pros and cons to dehydrating food. While it’s easy to look into the advantages, such as retained nutrients, reducing waste, and improved taste, there are some disadvantages of dehydrated food as well.
Some of the disadvantages of dehydrated food include the time that it takes, the taste and appearance of food changing, and lower nutrient value. You may find that the excess calories generated by dehydrating food will lead to additional weight gain as well.
Disadvantages Of Dehydrating Food
Obviously, the biggest or at least first detriment that may come to mind when considering dehydrated foods is the amount of time it will take. Unless you are buying your dehydrated foods pre-made, you are going to have to allocate enough time to allow your food to completely dry.
If you have a tight or unforgiving schedule, this may not be feasible. The time needed to dehydrate foods fully, and correctly, is sometimes not worth the investment for some people.
The Taste And Appearance May Change
If you’re new to dehydrating foods, the way they look at the end of this process may take you by surprise. If food that has been dehydrated, as the name suggests, does not have any water in it. The food may look shriveled, dried out, and reduced in size significantly.
While this is not always a bad thing, some may be put off by the appearance of dehydrated foods. If you have picky eaters in your life, taking a look at these dehydrated foods may make them less likely to give them a try. Consider everyone who is going to be eating your dehydrated foods before you begin.
As to be expected, the taste is going to change. Without any water, you may find that the taste of some foods are sharper, more sour, or more bitter.
Before you commit to dehydrating a very large batch of a food, try dehydrating one or two smaller portions and giving them a taste test. You will not want to waste a lot of food, and time, on something that you will not want to eat.
Consider also your own personal hydration. If you are dehydrated, or suffer from chronic dehydration, these foods are not going to do any favors. The absence of water in them means that even if you are feeling dry, you won’t hope to gain anything from eating your snack of dehydrated apples.
When you subject a food to dehydration, you are, obviously, removing much of the water. Because of that, dehydrated foods are higher in calories per ounce than fully fresh fruits and vegetables. Though dehydrated foods are easy to carry along on hiking trips because of their light size, they are very calorically dense.
For example, one cup of fresh apple slices weighs 4 oz. Those 4 oz have about 57 calories. One cup of dehydrated apples weighing 1 oz contains 208 calories.
This caloric density is worth keeping in mind if you are trying to watch or manage your weight. It may seem like dehydrated foods would make for a good, healthy snack, but consider the fresh counterparts instead.
Higher Sugar Content
Some dehydrated foods that you pick up from your local grocery store may have a few additives. This isn’t uncommon for store-bought dehydrated foods. One thing you may notice when you scan the nutritional facts on the back of the package is a higher sugar count.
The reason for this is because grocery stores, and other manufacturers, are in the business of preserving shelf life. In some cases, sugar will act as a natural preservative. Sugar adds extra calories without providing any additional nutrients.
To use another fruit example, a cup of fresh blueberries comes in at about 5 oz, and contains 84 calories. Typically, they will have about 15 g of sugar. This is natural sugar, derived from the fruit itself.
On the other hand, only a quarter cup of dried sweetened blueberries will weigh 1.4 oz, but contain 127 calories. Not only that, but the sugar has almost doubled at 27 g. That includes sugar from the natural blueberries, and the added sugar that was introduced during the preservation process.
Those with diabetes may want to keep an eye out for added sugar in their dehydrated foods. If you are looking at dehydrated fruits and vegetables to add to your snacking routine, be sure to scan the label for no sugar added varieties.
Another common preservative for dehydrated foods is salt. Salt is one of the most traditional, historically used preservatives. However, while it may add a pop of flavor, it is not ideal for your health.
If you’ve ever sampled a piece of salami at a charcuterie board, or dug into dried beef on a road trip, you surely noticed their salty flavors. Most meat is actually low in sodium naturally, but the curing process used to make these foods skyrockets the sodium content.
For most healthy adults, the daily recommended sodium intake caps out at 2300 mg. Just an ounce of cured, dried beef packs in 780 of those.
If you are watching your sodium, be sure to look over the labels of dried meats and vegetables to see their sodium levels.
There are a lot of pros and cons of dehydrated food. While many of the advantages are great, the disadvantages of dehydrated food are worse considering before you choose them as your next snack.
Dehydrating food at home has significant advantages over buying dehydrated food from the supermarket. You have better control over the ingredients, and can ensure that no added sodium or sugars are in the mix. This is a common disadvantage of dehydrated food.
You may also encounter higher calories and dehydrated food. This happens because the water has been removed and you need to eat more of it to be full.