Dehydration or drying is one of the traditional methods of preserving food. It helps remove extra moisture from the food in order to prevent spoilage or decay. The wizened form and harder texture of dried vegetables does not make them the first vegetable choice for most people. However, the drying of vegetables is a safe, low fat and long-lasting preservation method. A top benefit of this method is that the nutritional content of dried vegetables does not change, meaning that they can be used to meet an individual’s vegetable intake.
Dried vegetables usually retain 100% of the calories contained in fresh vegetables while only consuming half the space. Contrary to a popular belief, the vegetables retain all the fiber and iron. It is possible to remove almost all of the moisture contained in vegetables using dehydration technology, leaving between 2% and 3% in the finished product. This moisture removal also increases the vegetable’s storage life. The method offers an excellent way of enjoying the vegetables when they are out of season. It is also an ideal alternative to canning or freezing them.
During the process of dehydration, the vegetables are exposed to some heat. Although the temperatures are kept quite low, some vitamins that are heat sensitive are lost, particularly vitamin C. Despite the heat exposure, vitamin A is quite well-preserved as long as the temperatures are kept controlled. The process of cooking can also lead to the destruction of the two vitamins. Vitamins that are water-soluble, such as the B vitamins, can be lost when the vegetables are being dried. The good news is that they can be preserved if the soaking liquid is used during cooking.
The entire dietary content of dried vegetables is preserved during dehydration, ensuring that they remand a high-fiber choice of food. Dietary fiber offers bulk to any diet and can go a long way in reducing the effects of constipation. Naturally, vegetables are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps create soft bulk while insoluble ones assist in speeding up bowel movement. The presence of fiber lowers the risk of certain cancers lie colorectal and gastrointestinal cancers among others. Additionally, the dehydrated vegetables do not contain fat, sodium or cholesterol, and no preservatives are used.
For dried vegetables to be used, they have to be reconstituted. This usually involves soaking them in water. Alternatively, someone can add them directly into high liquid food like stews, sauces and soups. Often, reconstituted vegetables have a softer texture when compared to fresh vegetables. This means they are commonly consumed as part of a finished meal as opposed to eaten on their own. Certain dishes utilize the unusual texture of dried vegetables to offer textural contrast.
Individuals who wish to get the best nutrition from dried vegetables should go for those with the best quality and flavor. There is a wide variety to choose from, including tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, green peas and kale. Dehydrated vegetables are convenient for consumption while on the go and do not have to be refrigerated.
Posted By Dennis E. Baker