Oven Drying

Oven drying is the simplest way to dry food at home because you need almost no special equipment and it is faster than sun drying. Drying food in an electric oven of a kitchen range, on the other hand, can be very expensive, about eight to ten times as costly as canning it. Home oven drying can be used only on a small scale, because an ordinary kitchen oven can hold only 5 to 6 pounds of food at one time. 

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees F. 
Arrange 1 to 2 pounds of prepared food in a single layer on each tray. Remember that lighter load dries faster than a full load. Allow about 2 inches of space on the sides, front, and back of the trays so that air can circulate all around them in the oven.

Put one tray on each oven rack. It is good idea to number the trays, because if you number the trays you can easy keep track of the order in which you rotate them.

Place an oven thermometer on the top tray about half way back where you can see it easily.

For the first part of the drying process, the air temperature can be relatively high (because food is cold), that is about 150 to 160 degrees F (65 to 70 degrees C), so that moisture can evaporate quickly from the food. Watch the process very carefully, and as soon as surface moisture is lost (the outside begins to feel dry), the air temperature must then be reduced to about 140 degrees F (60 degrees C).

Check the temperature about every half hour, because it is very important to keep the oven temperature at 140 degrees F.

Keep the oven door open (for electric oven 5 to 6 inches, for gas oven 2 to 3 inches) during drying for ventilation. A block of wood or rolled newspaper will help to keep the door open so that moist air can escape while the heat stays in the oven. 

If your oven do not have a fan, you can place an electric fan in front of the oven door, it will help to keep the air circulating. Be careful because this is not a safe practice for a home with small children.

Keep in mind that temperature is not the same everywhere in the oven and because of that rotate the trays from top to bottom and from front to back very often (about every half hour). 

Some food needs to be turned over occasionally for successful drying. Stirring occasionally prevent foods from sticking to the trays and also helps the food to dry evenly.

Note: If you have only two oven racks and want to stack more trays in the oven you can use blocks of wood and put them in the corners of the racks to hold the trays at least 2 inches apart. Dry no more than four trays of food at a time.

Never use the broiler unit of an electric oven because the food on the top tray will dry too quickly. The best solution for oven drying is a proper model of convection oven that has a timer and controllable temperature starting at 120 degrees F.

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Did You Know?
Certain foods inhibit, alleviate or reduce symptoms of common health problems.

For example, a fundamental factor to managing diabetes is diet. To lower your sugar levels, it is suggested that you eat: regular meals and snacks; a balance of starches, protein and fats; and low-fat, high-fibre foods.

For arthritis, anti-inflammatory foods may help ease the pain of stiff joints, so eat plenty of fatty fish, salmon, sardines, foods high in vitamin C, fresh green and yellow vegetables, nuts and whole grains, high fibre and low-calorie foods to help control weight.

To reduce inflammation, cut down on foods containing animal fats.

To counter the effects of high blood pressure: eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fresh and dried fruits, legumes and dairy products for potassium.

Cut down on: canned and processed foods, added salt and fatty foods.

Bananas are an excellent dietary source of potassium. They are also sodium free, so you can make them part of your diet to reduce risk of high blood pressure.

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