Can I add food to an existing dehydrator batch? In our rush to get food dehydrated, we often make this simple but important error that adds hours onto our dehydrating time.
I often have a small batch of produce in my Nesco Dehydrator (this is the one I have, found at Amazon) at any given time. It helps me to make sure that there is no fresh food going bad in the refrigerator.
When I have a bag of spinach or kale that is getting close to its expiration date I will often start a few trays drying. Once I get started its easy to find other things that can be dehydrated too. Should you add more food to an existing dehydrator batch?
The science behind dehydrating
Today’s electric dehydrators make your pantry preservation easy and they run super efficiently. In these machines, vertical airflow is accomplished by having a powerful motor at the top, bottom, or in back of the tray stack. If you have a circular machine, hot pressurized air is forced downward through the inside ring and around the dehydrator trays.
Dehydrators work by circulating warm, dry air around the machine. This also reduces the humidity that your food is exposed to, and you can efficiently dry a lot of food at one time.
Constantly opening the dehydrator and adding new material to it, reduces the efficiency of the machine and will cause your batch to take longer to dry.
If you have more than one dehydrator
Many people have more than one dehydrator to speed up the drying process for big batches of produce. I sure do. If you do have two machines, it’s good practice to combine a load from both dehydrators after a few hours.
After a couple of hours, the food will have reduced in size and you can start a new batch in your second dehydrator using the remaining trays. As foods become dry, remove them from the trays, let them cool, and package for pantry storage.
Can you add food to an existing dehydrator batch?
If the batch has been in for more than 15 minutes, and the food has already begun to warm, you should not add any other fresh produce to a partially dried batch. It will slow the rate of drying for both products.
Combine trays by removing dried pieces and let the still moist pieces remain in the dehydrator until they are completely dry. If you have sliced your food into uniform pieces your load should be finished at the same time.
The bottom line – don’t add more to a dehydrator batch once it has started to dry. Introducing additional moisture into the dehydrator will make the batch take longer to dry overall.