Dehydrated food can allow you to reduce the amount of food you throw out due to spoilage. It is a great way to preserve foods while maintaining their nutrient values. But how long does dehydrated food last?
Dehydrated food can last upwards of 20 years if prepared and stored correctly. Dehydrated food shelf life largely depends on the type of food, how it was processed, and how you keep it. Foods processed at home are less likely to last 20 years. However, some home-processed dehydrated foods have an average shelf life of 8-10 years.
Preparation and storage are vital to extending the life of your dehydrated foods. The type of food will also significantly affect how long the shelf life is.
Dehydrated Food Shelf Life Depends (Mostly) on These 4 Factors
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Depending on food type, proper preparation, and storage temperature, commercially dehydrated food can last as long as 20 years. These foods will have all the moisture removed and all the oxygen removed from the storage container.
Home dehydrated food’s shelf life is dependent on many factors, including:
- Proper preparation
- Storage location
Removing oxygen and moisture are the best ways to prolong preservation. Your home dehydrated foods can last just as long as commercially dehydrated foods if maintained appropriately.
Proper Preparation for Dehydrating Food
One of the critical steps to ensuring a long shelf life for your dehydrated foods is proper preparation. This step includes pretreating your food before dehydrating it. Here are some pretreating tips for the most common types of dehydrated foods.
Ascorbic Acid Rinse for Fruit
You should soak your fruit in ascorbic acid solution to help prevent browning. Here’s how to soak your fruit:
- Mix 1 teaspoon of powdered ascorbic acid into two cups of water.
- You should soak sliced fruit for 3-5 minutes before draining.
The same solution can be used for two batches.
Fruit Juice Rinse for Fruit
Use fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges to make a pretreatment solution:
- Place cut fruit in a bowl with just enough juice to cover it.
- Soak the fruit for 3-5 minutes before draining.
The juice can be used for two batches. Note that this method is not as effective as ascorbic acid and will alter the flavor of the fruit.
Blanching or Steaming Vegetables
Blanching or steaming your vegetables can help them retain their color during dehydration and reduce rehydration time.
We suggest blanching or steaming vegetables that you would not consume raw or more rigid vegetables.
Sulfite Dip for Fruits and Vegetables
Sulfite dips are a good option if you are planning on long-term fruit storage.
Note that sulfite dip can cause reactions in people with sulfite sensitivities or asthma.
Proper Packaging and Storage of Dehydrated Food
To ensure that your dehydrated food lasts the absolute longest it possibly can, you must store it in the proper food containers. These are airtight, bug-resistant containers that include glass canning jars, moisture-proof freezer bags, and vacuum packaging.
Dehydrated foods can be vacuum-sealed in mason jars or sealing bags. Foods that have pointy edges should not be packed in bags as their edges can puncture the bags.
We recommend wrapping the dehydrated food in parchment paper to prevent bag punctures. Also, note that some foods are fragile and may break apart with the vacuum-sealing process.
Jerky can be stored in glass mason jars or vacuum bags. If you go this route, the jerky will only keep for a short time at room temperature.
The fat content has a high potential for turning rancid.
Mylar bags are a great storage option because they are rugged, dark, and offer vacuum sealing options.
They do not have to be sealed with a sealer. You can place your dehydrated food inside, add some oxygen absorbers, and seal the bag. Sealing can be done with a clothes iron or an ordinary hair straightener.
Do not use mylar bags with zipper tops or clear windows. These are both air-permeable and will not work for long-term storage.
Any airtight container will work, but you need to ensure it really is airtight.
If you squeeze it and any air comes out, it is not airtight, and you need another container. You can use Tupperware, glass jars with solid lids, lids with silicone inserts, and plasticware with strong seals.
Zipper bags are not good on their own, but they are good for segmenting your storage.
Place smaller quantities of dehydrated foods into zipper bags, use the freezer bag versions, and then place the zipper bags into the larger outer airtight container.
Oxygen absorbers are small permeable packets that are safe for food. They have iron filings and activated charcoal.
When added to packages of dried food, they absorb the free oxygen that is present, extending the shelf life of the food.
Shelf Life of Different Types of Dehydrated Foods
The shelf life of your dehydrated food will also depend on the type of food and whether it was commercially processed.
Fruits that you dehydrate at home are best if enjoyed within 4 months to 1 year of processing. They can be stored longer, but the quality will deteriorate. If you want to push it, dehydrated fruits should last up to 5 years without spoiling.
You should condition your fruit for a week after drying. Place the dehydrated pieces in a canning jar and shake the jar daily. Doing so distributes the moisture evenly among all the fruits.
Pro tip: Citrus fruit is one of my favorite fruits to dehydrate. Check out my article, How to Dehydrate Citrus for more information.
If you store your dehydrated vegetables without oxygen, they will keep for up to ten years. Before packing for storage, you need to ensure the vegetables are thoroughly cooled and all the moisture is removed.
Home dehydrated jerky can only be stored for one to two months if stored in an airtight container. If you don’t keep it in an airtight container, consume the jerky within a week.
You should regularly inspect your containers for excess moisture or mold:
- If excess moisture is present, you can run the food through the dehydration process again.
- If you find mold, you will just need to throw out the food.
Recap: Dehydrated Food Shelf-Life
Dehydrating your foods extends their shelf life by quite a bit. Commercially dehydrated foods tend to have longer shelf lives than foods dehydrated at home.
Shelf life is affected by food type, preparation, and storage. Picking a suitable storage container is key to extending the time you can store your dehydrated food.
Pro tip: If you want to add food with a long shelf life to your prepper pantry, freeze drying is the way to go. Learn more in my article, Adding Freeze Dried Food to Your Prepper Pantry.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out these other articles related to food dehydrating.
- Does Dehydrating Food Take Away Nutrients?
- Nesco Dehydrator Review
- How to Dehydrate Eggs at Home
- What is the Longest Lasting Food?
- 8 Benefits of Dehydrated Food
- Dehydrating Vs. Freeze Drying
- Disadvantages of Dehydrating Food
Here are some of my favorite dehydrating tools
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you strive to stock your pantry with delicious home-dehydrated food! Here are some tools that I use that I’m hoping you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a commission. Please know that these are the tools that I recommend and believe in 100%!
The Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator was my first dehydrator, and still one of my favorites. I actually have two of them! If I was only going to buy one dehydrator and was on a strict budget, this would be it. I love it because it’s very reasonably priced, and is expandable up to 12 trays. I recommend starting with the basic system that comes with 5 trays. Then expand by buying additional trays, fruit leather sheets, and mesh screens.
The Cosori Premium Dehydrator is my most recent dehydrator purchase. In many respects, it’s superior to the Nesco since it is constructed with stainless steel, which is always a winner. I love the ease of use, and how precise it is when it comes to setting the temperature. It’s also versatile in that you can remove some of the racks. This makes it possible to use it for more than just dehydrating. As an example, you can use the Cosori dehydrator to make yogurt, something you definitely can’t do with any of the stackable dehydrators.
Nesco FD-1018A Gardenmaster Pro Food Dehydrator – I’ve had my eye on this dehydrator for a LONG time. I don’t have space for another dehydrator, so I’m just waiting for one of my dehydrators to die so I can buy this one! What I really love about this dehydrator is that it expands to up to 30 (yes, 30!) trays. At 1,000 watts, it’s more powerful than the two dehydrators listed above. If you only have the means to buy one dehydrator, and have limited space to dehydrate, I recommend this one since you can dehydrate a huge amount of food at a time.
The FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing Machine is a great way to preserve the food you’ve dehydrated. The machine I use is no longer available. I chose this one because it’s a great price and includes a port that makes it possible to use the accessory kit linked to below. Since I store all my dehydrated food in mason jars, the jar sealer attachments are a must. But with this device, you can also use food storage bags if you’re short on mason jars, or prefer to seal you dehydrated food in bags.
The FoodSaver Handheld Cordless Food Vacuum Sealer is a great option for those with limited space. I keep mine charged up in my kitchen, so I can easily reseal jars every time I use some of my dehydrated food. While I still love my larger FoodSaver, from a convenience perspective, this one can’t be beat.
The FoodSaver Accessory Kit is a must if, like me, you store dehydrated food in mason jars. You can use this kit with either of the vacuum sealers linked to above. If you can’t get the one I linked to on Amazon, check out this selection of options available on Walmart.