Preservation of objects, cultures and memories has been a humankind exploration often covered in spirituality and ritual. When it comes to the more practical needs of preserving what we eat, foods aren’t any different. Food preservation has been an essential element of both civilised and pre-civilised societies, where the food of nomadic tribes were dried and made as light as possible in order for them to stay on the move, allowing a slow constant of food in case of the inability to find the next prey.
Pickling, fermenting, the ancient process of preserving foods is endless. Ancient Egyptians would dry grains and store them in sealed containers to ensure their longevity, Romans used salt to slow down the spoiling of meats and fish. Many of these preserve methods are so trusted that they are as good today in our modern lives as they were then.
Researching into cultural and historic ways to preserve foods in order to keep them fresh as possible has been fascinating. For us, dehydration is a process that helps to make products nutritionally stable. The longer a fresh piece of fruit or veg remains uncooked or preserved, means that its nutritional value is continually lowering while rate of spoiling increased. Some of the primary culprits helping raw ingredients to spoil include air, moisture, light, temperature and microbial growth. But by eliminating or reducing these elements means preservation is possible.
Dehydration does not cook, but gently raises temperatures to a minimum level in order to kill off microbial growth. During this light rise in temperature, moisture is extracted over a period of many hours. This dramatic reduction in moisture and growth, successfully helps to lock in flavours and nutrients, whilst helping to guard against spoiling. Dehydrated foods range in how long they last for from months to years. As soon a moisture is added again, this would mean that the decomposition process would become active very quickly.
For fruit and vegetables to be enjoyed out of season, they had to be preserved in some way. Today we have an availably of ‘fresh’ fruit and veg at any time we want it. They are often grown in manufactured conditions, pumped with chemicals, or transported from one part of the world to another for convenience and demand. We like to think that foods should be grown as naturally as possible, and demand should be in line with seasonality and locality. Dehydration should be used in order to help retain as many of the nutritional values as possible, as fresh isn’t always convenient. When used to supplement a fresh food diet, organic fresh produce dehydrated for optimum results, is the perfect way to sensibly explore the seasonality of produce.