Treatment Before Drying

Fruits and vegetables must be prepared for drying as soon as possible after harvesting. Select only fresh, good quality fruits and vegetables. All foods should be prepared by proper sorting, washing, and peeling. Vegetables are low in sugar and acid and this increases the risks for food spoilage.

Fruits are practical and much easier to dry than vegetables, because of the high sugar and acid content and because moisture from fruits evaporates more easily. See instructions for Practical Food to Dry.

Cleanliness and Sanitation

Cleanliness and sanitation are essential and very important throughout the drying process. Make sure everything is clean through before drying.

Size of Food Particles

It is very important to cut food into uniformly-sized pieces for the best result. Food should be cut into halves, strips, or slices and should not be more than 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. Larger pieces take longer to dry because it is more difficult for the water to travel through the pores in the food. Spread thin layers of uniformly-sized pieces of food on the prepared drying racks. The trays should be stirred occasionally and rotated if top trays dry at different rates than the bottom trays. 

NOTE: In general, the shelf life of home dried vegetables and fruits stored at 60° F is 4 to 6 months. If the product is stored at 70° F, shelf life will be shortened. See tables.

Real Cooking

Did You Know?
To remove scale or hard-water film from canning jars, just soak jars for several hours in a solution of one cup of vinegar and one gallon of water.
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A Mason jar is a glass jar used in canning to preserve food. They were invented and patented by John L. Mason in 1858. They are also called Ball jars, after Ball Corp., a popular and early manufacturer of the jars; fruit jars because they are often used to store fruit; or generically glass canning jars. While largely supplanted by other methods for commercial mass-production, they are still commonly used in home canning.

In modern usage, the terms often refer specifically to jars featuring a two-piece cover: An inner, flat, metal or glass lid, covered by a screw-on ring. The ring holds the lid in place during the canning process, which creates a partial vacuum, sealing the lid until opened. The lids are sold separately so that the jars and rings can be reused.

Mason jars are made of soda-lime glass, and come in a variety of sizes including quart, pint, half-gallon, and cup sizes, as well as in wide-mouth and regular mouth shapes.

The most common US brands of Mason jars are Ball and Kerr, both brand names now part of the Jarden corporation.