Dehydrated foods are making lots of waves in the prepping community thanks to the proliferation of companies selling purpose designed and package survival meals, meals that need only a little bit of hot water to reconstitute them.
They sure look good on those high dollar commercials, and as far as storage concerns go they make a lot of sense, but most people have little practical experience eating dehydrated food long-term. Are dehydrated foodstuffs safe?
Dehydrated food is usually a healthy option for long-term storage, even when eating as the primary source of calories. Especially when compared to heavily processed foods or shelf stable snacks and meal replacement options, dehydrated foods prove themselves much better nutritionally.
However, dehydrated foods pack in significantly more calories, salt and sugar by weight compared to non dehydrated equivalents. This means you must watch your calorie intake closely when subsisting predominantly on dehydrated foods.
Dehydrated foods are a great option for preppers getting ready for nearly any situation, and whether or not you are planning on bugging in or bugging out there is likely an option that will be perfect for your requirements.
We will examine a few more factors concerning the implementation of dehydrated foods below.
Dehydrated Food can Be Preserved without Additives
Probably the most standout feature of dehydrated foods for most folks is that they can afford you an extremely long shelf life with very little, if any, degradation compared to other modern forms of preservation, particularly chemical additives. These benefits contrast ever more starkly if you are the one dehydrating the food yourself.
You don’t have to believe me. look at the label on any long-lasting food stuff you would pick up at the grocery store and you’ll see a list of ingredients that is so complex and unpronounceable it looks like a foreign language.
A similar dehydrated food option will likely have a far shorter ingredients list if it has any additional ingredients at all.
For those who are trying to eat an extremely clean, wholesome diet, or for anyone who has particular dietary requirements for medical reasons dehydrated foods can be a great option because they are an easy way to preserve almost any kind of food long-term with no added chemicals or adulterating ingredients.
Dehydrated Foods Maintain Nutritional Value
Another stellar feature of dehydration as a method of preservation is the fact that it preserves the majority of an items nutritional content. Most methods of preservation that rely on high heat will typically have a deleterious effect on essential vitamins and minerals present in the food.
As a general rule, most dehydrating processes avoid high heat or spiking the food with any gnarly chemicals and so will keep more of the good stuff around.
However, this is not a perfect process and there are exceptions. Vitamins A and especially C are negatively affected by the dehydrating process but most will come through completely intact.
Also, it is possible to add certain chemical preservatives which will prevent the loss of essential vitamins through dehydration. This is commonly employed in the commercial production of dehydrated foods and is seen as something of a selling point.
Unfortunately, this is a classic case of a false remedy as the chemical additives used to prevent the loss of vitamins A and C will usually deplete minerals in the bargain.
This does not necessarily mean that the foods will be in some way unhealthy, only that you should be aware of it, and particularly so if you have special dietary requirements.
Dehydrated Foods Have More Calories by Weight
Dehydration produces a unique texture on the foods we all know and love, and it does this because water, or rather moisture, is removed from the food in question. After this process is completed, our food seems shrunken and either turns light, crispy and flaky or becomes very dense and wrinkly.
At any rate, the food that went in to the dehydration process comes out lighter because moisture is removed.
What is not removed, however, is that given portion of foods calorie content. Now when you go to consume that food the food feels lighter and less bulky, but contains the same payload of calories.
This can be kind of dangerous with certain food items because they are so eminently snackable that is easy to wolf down these small, light portions while really packing in the calories.
This can be an issue mentally and practically because the weight and bulk of a food and in particular it’s moisture content play a significant part in reaching satiation when eating.
Most people could not eat three or four bananas before they declare themselves full, or at least tired of bananas. However, I can assure you it is no trouble at all to sail through that same amount of bananas when they are turned into light, crispy banana chips!
This means that folks who are on a diet must be wary when consuming dehydrated food in any quantity, and it also means you might have trouble feeling full when subsisting on dehydrated offerings that have not been reconstituted.
Your Dehydrated Food Might Require Reconstitution
Just because a food has been dehydrated does not mean it is palatable, or even ready to eat, as it is.
Most of your typical snack or trail mix offerings like fruits, veggies, meats and even specialty or novelty items like ice cream are ready to consume as is, but other items like beans, soups, casseroles and the like must be rehydrated through the use of boiling water and patience before digging in.
Now, this might be an issue for you or it might not depending on your circumstances and your plan, but it is something you must know about before you decide to go all in on stockpiling dehydrated food.
In a situation where both time and fuel are plentiful, you shouldn’t have much in the way of worry. However, if you are relying on dehydrated food in a situation where water is scarce or precious and fuel is something you cannot afford to waste unnecessarily, it probably won’t be much of a bargain.
think through your plan and the likely situation before committing to a large quantity of dehydrated food, and keep in mind that there are always certain options that are worthwhile in the form of snacks and trail food, items that require no preparation before eating while affording you all the advantages of dehydrated food discussed above.
Dehydrated foods are increasingly popular, and this is a good thing for preppers both because they are long-lasting, and because they are generally very healthy compared to other methods of preservation.
However, the loss of water weight does nothing to impact the calorie load of a given item and it is easy to overindulge on dehydrated foods.
Additionally, certain items must be reconstituted through the use of boiling water and depending on the situation this may not be practical or convenient. Despite this, dehydrated foods remain an excellent option for general preparedness.