Why You Cook Food Before You Dehydrate It

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Cooking food before dehydrating has many benefits. Most importantly, this includes preventing the food
from spoiling due to bacteria and food pathogens. In addition, both the flavor and the nutrition of the
food is preserved. Therefore, the food is just as nutritious as when it was originally prepared.

Dehydrating cooked foods allows you to prepare the food before your next backpacking trip. There is
nothing more satisfying than having a hot meal waiting for you after a long day of backpacking.

That is easy to do if it is fully cooked before dehydrating. All you have to do is rehydrate and heat-n-eat.

Preparing food for dehydration can be done through blanching and other cooking techniques. In this
post, we’ll look at the benefits of cooking before dehydrating, how to prepare food for dehydration,
and considerations for maintaining quality after dehydration.

Vegetables cooking in a pot for dehydrating cooked food

Benefits of Cooking Before Dehydrating

By pre-cooking foods, you reap the benefits of enhanced flavor and texture when it comes to
dehydrating your ingredients.

An added benefit of pre-cooking food before dehydrating is it breaks down starches and proteins. This
makes the food easier and less time-consuming to rehydrate. Furthermore, pre-cooking helps to break
down complex carbohydrates and proteins, making it easier for the body to digest. Dehydrated food is
more nutritionally beneficial and is immediately read to fuel the body for the next day’s adventures.

Also, pre-cooking food helps to ensure that all the flavors and textures are retained when the food is
dehydrated. This is especially true for meats. Slow cooking tenderizes the meat.

Once dehydrated, the meat is easier to rehydrate and not as tough. The goal is to have food taste substantially the same when
it’s rehydrated as it did when it was cooked.

Finally, pre-cooking helps to ensure that the food is fully cooked before it is dehydrated, making it safe
to eat. Raw uncooked food may be contaminated due to unsafe handling. Pre-cooking reduces the risk
of food poisoning by killing bacteria and pathogens that may be in the food.

All in all, pre-cooking food before dehydrating is an essential step in the dehydration process, as it helps
to ensure that the food is safe to eat, and retains its flavor, texture, and nutritional value.

Related Article: Backpacking Food Dehydrator Everything You Need to Know

Preparing Food for Dehydration

Preparing food prior to dehydration is key. Proper preparation is essential to ensure the food retains its
nutritional value and flavor.
Before dehydrating, it is important to remove all fat, skin, bones, and other non-edible parts from

Dehydrated meat often retains some fat. Over time, fats can become rancid and spoil the meat.
Therefore, it is important to remove as much fat as possible prior to dehydrating meat. In addition, I always store my dehydrated meat in the freezer to prevent any residual fats from turning rancid.

Vegetables should be blanched to help stop enzyme action in your dehydrated product. Blanching
ensures the food retains its flavor and texture. Enzymes left unchecked cause discoloration and changes
in taste.

Fruits benefit by applying ascorbic acid or a lemon juice dip for the same reason. You can easily see what
happens to an apple when it is cut in half and left on the counter. It turns brown. You don’t want that
happening with your dehydrated fruits.

Furthermore, it is important to ensure the food is completely dry before dehydrating. Excess moisture
takes longer to dehydrate and may lead to spoilage.

Likewise, placing too much food in the dehydrator can cause food spoilage before it gets fully dehydrated because of the length of time it takes. It is therefore important to cut the food into small pieces to ensure even dehydration in a short amount of
Casseroles and similar meal options often include meats, cheese, and eggs. They should be cooked
thoroughly to destroy any potentially dangerous pathogens then cooled before being placed in the

Blanching and Other Cooking Techniques

Before dehydration, consider blanching your food or utilizing other cooking techniques to help stop
enzyme action, retain flavor and texture, as well as prevent discoloration. Blanching is a process where
food is steamed or boiled in water for a short period of time and then quickly cooled in an ice bath. This
technique is often used for vegetables.

Other cooking methods that can be used prior to dehydration include baking, steaming, and grilling.
Baking is a great way to help preserve the flavor and texture of food while steaming and grilling add
unique flavor profiles.

All of these methods can help reduce the amount of time needed for drying and help ensure that the
food retains its flavor and texture. Additionally, these techniques can help reduce the risk of food
spoilage due to the high cooking temperatures used.

Related Article: How much food should I take backpacking?

Considerations for Cooking Before Dehydrating

When considering the dehydration process, prior cooking techniques should be taken into account to
optimize flavor, texture, and preservation.

Blanching vegetables is an important step when pre-cooking food before dehydration. This helps to keep vegetables crisp and vibrant in color. When blanching, it is important to use the correct amount of time and temperature, This will ensure that the vegetables are
cooked properly without losing their nutritional value. In addition to boiling, steaming can be used to
ensure that vegetables are properly cooked without becoming mushy.

When pre-cooking meats, boiling is often used to ensure that it is thoroughly cooked and that any
bacteria are killed. Boiling also aids in retaining moisture in the meat, making it more tender. This helps
it rehydrate easier after it is dehydrated. Additionally, grilling and roasting meats can be used to impart
a smoky flavor and add texture.

It is important to keep in mind that the cooking time should be adjusted to ensure that the meat does
not become dry or overcooked. If that happens it will not be tender both before and after dehydrating.

Dehydrated food in plastic bags on a log by a backpack

Maintaining Quality After Dehydration

After dehydrating your ingredients, it’s essential to safeguard the foods you dehydrate. You want to
maintain their quality so they can be enjoyed on future backpacking trips.

Proper food storage for dehydrated food items is mandatory to prevent spoilage and degraded flavor and texture.
To do this, it’s important to store the dehydrated items in an airtight container. This will help to keep
moisture and contaminants out of the food.

Additionally, if you intend to store the items for an extended period of time, it is a good idea to place a desiccant packet in the container to absorb any excess moisture. It is also important to store the food in a cool, dry place, as moisture and heat can
cause even dehydrated food to spoil.

Another way to maintain the quality of your dehydrated ingredients is to freeze them. This will help to
preserve the flavor and texture of the food. However, before you freeze the food, it’s important to make
sure that it is completely cooled and dry.

Additionally, it’s important to make sure that the food is sealed in an airtight container or plastic freezer bag before placing it in the freezer. This will help to protect the food from freezer burn and ensure that it remains fresh for an extended period of time.


What types of food are best suited for dehydration?

When it comes to dehydrating food, some types of food are better suited for the process than others.

Fruits and vegetables are the most frequently dehydrated foods. This is due to their ability to retain
flavor and nutrition when dehydrated.

Other foods, such as meats, can also be dehydrated, but they must be cooked first to prevent the
growth of any bacteria. Also, it is important to remove as much fat as possible from the meat before
dehydrating it. Fats will turn rancid over time, making the meat taste terrible.

Additionally, grains and legumes are also good candidates for dehydration. These foods are often
dehydrated to create shelf-stable products such as granola, cereal, and flour. All in all, dehydrating food
can be a great way to preserve its flavor and nutrition for extended periods of time.

What is the ideal temperature and humidity for dehydrating food?

The ideal temperature for dehydrating food depends on the type of food being dehydrated. For
instance, grated cheddar cheese can be spread out on parchment paper and air-dried on the counter
with a fan blowing on it.
Herbs and spices dehydrate at 95°F; nuts and seeds at 105°F – 115°F; fruits and vegetables at 125°F –
135°F; prepared meals between 140°F – 150°F; and meats between 155°F – 160°F; and jerky at 160°F.

ERH, or Equilibrium Relative Humidity, must be below 60%. This is the measure of how much water is
available in dehydrated food. Bacteria and microorganisms present in the food can continue to multiply
if ERH is more than this. Moisture below 60% ensures that the food is properly dehydrated without
cooking it, thus preserving its nutrients and flavor.

Finally, when dehydrating food that has already been cooked, it is important to maintain a lower
temperature so that the food does not overcook or burn. Maintaining the right temperature and
humidity is key to successful food dehydration.

How long should the food be cooked before dehydrating?

Cooking food before dehydrating is an important step in the process, and the amount of time the food
should be cooked will depend on the food itself.

Generally, most foods should be cooked for at least 30 minutes but no more than an hour to ensure the
food is both cooked through and still retains enough moisture for successful dehydration.

Some foods, such as certain fruits and vegetables, may only need to be cooked for 10-15 minutes before
dehydrating. Meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F. It is best to closely monitor
the food while it is cooking to ensure that it is not overcooked, as this will result in a poor dehydrated

What safety precautions should be taken when dehydrating food?

When dehydrating food, it is important to take safety precautions to ensure that the food is properly
dehydrated and stored.
First, clean all counter surfaces and dehydrator trays prior to food preparation. Most food pathogens
found on raw foods are due to contact with contaminated surfaces.

Next, all meats and prepared meals should be cooked before dehydrating to reduce the risk of
contamination. Blanch vegetables with boiling water or steaming followed by an ice bath. Dip fruits in
lemon juice or sprinkle with ascorbic acid powder to stop enzyme degradation.

Additionally, it is important to ensure that the food is completely dry and stored in containers that are
airtight. Moisture present in the air can be reintroduced into the dehydrated food if this step is not

Finally, it is important to check the food regularly for signs of spoilage or mold. By following these safety
precautions when dehydrating food, you can ensure that the food remains safe and nutritious.

What are the best storage containers for dehydrated food?

When it comes to storing dehydrated food, airtight containers are the best option. Mason jars, plastic
containers, and vacuum-sealed bags are all good options for keeping your dehydrated food fresh longer
and free from moisture.

  • Mason jars are great for storing dehydrated fruits and vegetables, as their airtight seals help
    keep out air and moisture.
  • Plastic containers come in a variety of sizes and are a great option for storing dehydrated meats,
    grains, and other items.
  • Vacuum-sealed bags are great for keeping out air and moisture, but they can be difficult to open
    and close.

Ultimately, the best storage container for dehydrated food depends on the type of food being stored
and personal preferences.

For instance, the Geez stores his backpacking meals and bulk dehydrated
items in freezer bags in the freezer out in the garage. That way I know there is no chance of spoilage
even if the food was dehydrated a year or two ago.


Cooking food before dehydrating can be beneficial for both taste and texture. It can also help to reduce
the amount of time needed to dehydrate the food and help to maintain the overall quality. Also, it can
reduce the time needed to rehydrate the food.

However, it is important to note that the cooking technique used is important and should be considered
carefully.  But care should be taken to ensure that the food is not overcooked.
Dehydrating food can be a great way to preserve food for a long period of time. Most importantly, you
must take the necessary steps to ensure that your food remains flavorful and of high quality.