I’ve been reading several posts about dehydrating foods in home dehydrators. I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe it’s time to clear up some misinformation. Since our company uses gentle dehydration to process our BirD-elicious! Origins Wild Diet! species-specific bird foods, and has been doing this since 2003, I thought maybe we might know a thing or two about the dehydration process.
First of all dehydration is more about air flow than it is temperature. As long as there is good air flow a person can be fairly sure the food is drying adequately without mold or bacteria growing. However, some amount of heat ensures that no mold or bacteria gains an opportunity to grow at all as long a good air flow is present.
Excalibur® is the renowned manufacturer of home dehydrators, but they also manufacture commercial dehydrators. I would say they know a thing or two about proper air flow and temperature. They’ve done their research and know about the temperatures that destroy enzymes too.
According to the research Excalibur® has performed enzymes can stand a lot more heat than the rumors that circulate our avian groups. I have seen numbers from 115 degrees F to 105 degrees F as the maximum allowable temperatures for dehydration. It depends on exactly what we are discussing, external temperatures, or internal…inside the food. Excalibur® has done their research and enzymes can withstand temperatures of up to 140 to 158 degrees F inside wet food itself.
Many have the terminology incorrect. It’s not the food that can only handle 105 degrees F; that is the average temperature of the air flow. Actually the average temperature of the air flow can go a lot higher, even up to 115 degrees F as long as the inside of the food doesn’t go any higher than the maximum of 120 degrees F when dry. Since it’s hard to tell how hot the food is inside Excalibur® recommends that a person set their dehydrator at 105 to ensure food doesn’t reach a temperature of any higher than 120 degrees F when dry. Wet food can withstand a lot higher temperatures.
Here at Origins Wild Diet we’ve done our own research. We know “our” foods and what they need to dehydrate properly. We also know a little bit about individual herbs, sprouts and fruits. You see, we do a lot of sprouting, more than the average person and we do a lot of dehydration, again more than the average person. We have been doing this since 2001…long before we became an official business in 2003. We tested our product for two years before we began selling it. Now that we have been selling it since 2003 we have a lot more experience under our belts. We know how much air flow and what temperature and the amount of ambient humidity our foods require to dehydrate properly and keep those enzymes alive and active. I’ll let you in on a little secret, we don’t adhere to any of the above numbers…ours are much lower to make absolutely sure the enzymes in our Origins Wild Diet foods are not the slightest bit damaged or destroyed in any way! Our overall process allows us to use lower temperatures.
We also know that individual herbs, sprouts and fruits can be dehydrated at much lower temperatures, if they are dehydrated properly. Doing so ensures the majority of the active enzymes, amino acids, fatty acids and vitamins all remain vital. However, to go about telling people that active enzymes are destroyed at any temperature over 105 degrees F is factually false information. Most enzymes can withstand temperatures of up to 140 to 158 internal degrees F before inactivated – In fact it’s actually beneficial to begin the unit at a higher temperature if you want to reduce the amount of time of overall dehydration. So beginning at 115 to 118 degrees while the food is still wet, then turning the heat down to 105 a little later on is optimum. But most people will not remember this step so it may be best to initially set the unit at 105 degrees F and leave it there for the duration. But you can also choose a longer period of time to dehydrate at lower temperatures. In that case a person could begin at 105, or even lower and dehydrate for a longer period of time ensuring maximum retention of enzymes.
In the end there are many methods of dehydration, it all depends on the specific application for a person’s own processing methods. And besides, isn’t the avian community expanding on “doing it your way” in this decade anyway?
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